North Texas Daily

Feminist Alliance urges gender equality on campus

Feminist Alliance urges gender equality on campus

Feminist Alliance urges gender equality on campus
March 10
00:02 2015

Kayleigh Bywater / Staff Writer

Since 2000, the Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance has operated both on campus and in the community to bring its beliefs and ideals to light.

“Feminism is not a word. It is a belief,” biomedical engineering freshman Steven Harris said. “It is a belief in a basic human right. Feminism is here to put men and women on the same level.”

A whole new world

Integrative studies senior Christy Medrano said she first joined FMLA in August 2011 and was introduced to a new world of ideas and thinking.

“I came from a small, conservative Texas town where I did not really get to express my true political beliefs,” Medrano said. “When I got here and discovered FMLA, I was opened up to an atmosphere that was completely different than my previous environment. I absolutely fell in love.”

Medrano said she has been with the organization since her freshman year and is currently serving as president. She said she had a vision for where she wanted the organization to go and followed through with her ideas.

Medrano said feminism is not just about fighting for the rights of white women. In the organization, the members strive to emphasize that anyone, no matter their race, sexuality or gender, deserves the right to equality.

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FMLA president Christy Medrano joined the organization in August 2011. Medrano said she fights for equality for everyone, not just women.

“It is extremely more diverse than that,” Medrano said. “Feminism represents women of every lifestyle, race and culture, and people need to be aware of that.”

Women’s studies professor Maia Cudhea said she recently became the faculty advisor for the organization and loves where Medrano and the other leaders are taking the group.

“These organizations are supposed to be student-run, and FMLA is completely that,” Cudhea said. “The students care deeply about this issue and are so involved in bringing it to light. They are striving to educate the public and take action. They genuinely want to make this issue right and are willing to fight for it.”

Medrano said she wants to help people understand feminism and educate those who may not necessarily understand the true meaning of it.

She said she does not think it is a mistake that some people have doubts about feminism, but she feels it is the job of organizations like FMLA to inform.

“Unfortunately, feminism has had some pretty bad public relations problems in the past,” Medrano said. “I feel like feminists have been made out to be angry, hairy lesbians who hate men, but that is not it at all. It is not my job to police people, but I think a lot of people who do not agree with feminism have not given it a chance.”

Educating a generation

In order to educate people on the subject of feminism, FMLA puts on different events for the campus and community.

“The events that we have really depend on what the leadership group in charge wants to focus on and what comes up in society at that time,” Cudhea said. “Whether that be working alongside clinics or doing walks to raise awareness, the members of FMLA decide on the best ways that they can bring this issue into the lives of people.”

Two events have been consistent in FMLA’s schedule to show people what feminism is about, Cudhea said. FMLA organizes Love Your Body! Week around October and in February puts together a performance of “The Vagina Monologues.”

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Feminist Majority Leadership Alliance president Christy Medrano’s pink fingernails identify her as fashionable while her planner identifies her as involved. Photos by Byron Thompson – Senior Staff Photographer

During Love Your Body! Week, members of FMLA stand outside the library or Union in their undergarments to show that women should love their bodies and go against the norms of society.

“If you hear someone shouting out random compliments, it is probably a member of FMLA,” Cudhea said.

“The Vagina Monologues,” which is currently being rescheduled due to the ice days, raises money and awareness for centers for domestic violence and human trafficking. FMLA sells tickets to the show, accepts donations and sells merchandise in order to raise funds.

“‘The Vagina Monologues’ is a show that is based on women’s experiences concerning domestic violence, rape, abuse and other issues women face daily,” Medrano said. “Although I do hope we raise a good amount of money, I am more concerned in terms of the experience it gives people and its education value.”

Harris said without FMLA and the events it hosts in Denton, a lot of people might not realize what feminism really stands for.

“These groups are getting the word out to young people to stand up and take charge of their lives,” Harris said. “Although the fight for equal rights seems like it will never end, if we do not start somewhere we will not change a thing.”

A new generation

Although FMLA does a lot to educate the community, Medrano said people outside of FMLA are not the only people who learn and grow.

“I feel like this group not only helps educate people who do not necessarily agree with feminism, but it also helps deepen the passion for people who do,” Medrano said. “Watching people grow is so exciting, and FMLA is a springboard that helps transform people into long-term activists.”

Cudhea said FMLA does its best to push people into educating themselves on social issues of the time.

“College students are living in a unique moment in life in which they are in a new environment facing new challenges every day,” Cudhea said. “Whatever a person’s beliefs and feelings are on any issue, college students can impact change in a variety of ways. They need to learn what they are passionate about and be active in it so that they can go out into the world and fight for what they believe in.”

Featured Image: A political poster made by J. Howard Miller in 1942. The poster wasn’t associated with feminism until the ‘80s. Photo by Wikimedia Commons

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